Graduate school is a very unstructured environment in most cases. Graduate students in general typically take nine hours or less of coursework per semester, especially after the second year. For MA/MGIS, the time spent in class can vary a bit more. For many PhD students, the third year - after coursework is largely finished and preliminary exams have been completed - is a very difficult and stressful period. This is when you're supposed to find a thesis topic. Once you do find a topic, you can expect two or more years until completion, with very few landmarks or milestones in sight. For MA/MGIS students, the time frame can be even shorter.
Students accepted into the program each December will take 506:495 the following Spring. This course will guide them through the stages of finding a thesis topic, seeking out secondary and primary sources, and developing a research strategy. In consultation with their thesis supervisors students will apply these lessons to their own research topics. During the summer of the same year they will conduct the bulk of their primary source research in archives suited to the topics they have chosen. In the following Fall semester they will take 506:496. Here they will produce the first drafts of their manuscripts, obtain feedback on the draft from their supervisors, and find a second reader to serve as thesis examiner. Students in the course will also provide feedback to one another. The most important work of the semester will be the revision in light of that feedback.
Finding a thesis topic in a new area isn't easy.
Around this time of every school year, development communication students at the Visayas State University (VSU) are required to come up with a topic for their undergraduate thesis. For others, finding a thesis topic may be easy. Others, however, find it hard to choose one. Here are some tips in choosing a thesis topic: